The 24-team playoff setup is being discussed, although, as mentioned, there is no guarantee. It would eliminate the controversies around the regular 16-team cutline, and allow the NHL a greater opportunity for regional television inventory. I’m told the magic number for many of these markets in the United States is 70. You want to play that many games on your regional network. It’s more of a challenge for teams like Pittsburgh, which deservedly gets a ton of national games.
There is some pushback on the 24. I’ve heard a few teams are upset that Chicago and Montreal will get in, especially if you’ve got to deal with a rested Carey Price in the opening round. That’s also led to a debate about what format the opening series should be — best two-of-three, or best three-of-five?
The first round “becomes” a five-game round robin — with a handicap by standings at arrival of the pause. Based on points percentage, the seeds could be given from 10 points (first) to 0 (sixth) at the start. If you think that’s too much, maybe go from five points to zero. That way, every team that comes back gets a minimum of five games.
Top four move on to the next round, and decide if we’re dealing with best-of-five or best-of-seven from then on.
This is it. This is the winner. Everyone has been hemming and hawing about how to restart. Good teams don't want a bye week. Teams in the middle don't think it's fair that they come back and poof...Patrick Kane and Carey Price are waiting for them in a short series. I don't blame them. This though, this format makes so much sense.
Three week training camp so guys can get back in shape. Nobody is even skating right now. It's going to be like the old days where you use training camp to, you know...train. Then this round robin gives sort of a "regular season" feel inside of all of those regional/divisional hubs. Then you can have a playoff sprint through, I don't know, mid September? If this is the format and we combine a tournament with a more traditional playoff then I think the NHL and NHLPA deserve a round of applause. This idea would be fun, it would be pragmatic, and it would give us a real champion so we can just turn the page on this stupid fucking season.
The best part of all of this is going to be the gambling. Nobody is going to know anything. The lines are going to be all over the place. A team who was rolling when the season was suspended might struggle to get it back and we won't have time to figure out who is good before all the Trump bucks have been lost because there will be games all day, every day, from the time they start until they finish. There's always the joke about no sleep during the NHL playoffs. Well imagine when this thing starts...you'll be staying up late to watch Vancouver against Edmonton, and then you'll start it up again the next day at like noon with the early round of Eastern Conference hub playoff games. This is going to be an incredible ride.